Stone laying for Continental’s newest tyre factory

The foundation stone for the new Continental tyre factory in Rayong, Thailand was laid last week at a ceremony marking the official start of work on the greenfield project. Company management, suppliers and local dignitaries attended a ceremony on 21 November that included elements of Thai culture and that of Continental’s homeland, Germany.

During the traditional stone laying ceremony, prayers were made by Buddhist monks and sticks were knocked into the pit prepared for the stone, and flowers spread across it. The monks then buried a time capsule containing a local newspaper and the current issue of Continental’s corporate magazine.

Guests were welcomed by Cameron Wilson, vice-president of marketing and sales, passenger and light truck tyres for Continental in the ASEAN region. “This investment is an essential part of the long-term growth strategy – ‘Vision 2025’ – aiming to expand and balance our global manufacturing footprint to best serve customers worldwide,” he said. “One important pillar of our long-term strategy is to operate with an agile and flexible set-up that enables us to react quickly to the market requirements, establish further production capacities in the growth region Asia with high-tech production capabilities – and Rayong perfectly serves this purpose.”

Wilson stated that a “combination of innovative German engineering coupled with local Thai production capabilities” will ensure the manufacturing of high quality tyres for customers in Thailand and Asia. The construction of a plant in Thailand, he noted, is also in line with Continental’s ‘in the market, for the market’ philosophy. “Consequently, we are continuing to increase our investment in this market by expanding not only our sales and marketing operations in Bangkok but also the number of Continental branded retail shops.”

Since the appointment of general contractor Thai Takenaka International Ltd. in mid-September 2017, the Rayong site, located in eastern Thailand, has developed significantly. Temporary site offices and the worker´s village are currently being erected, and pile cutting and the foundation work is in full swing. At the moment, around 450 workers are on-site, a number that is expected to increase to more than 1,600 in the coming three months.

Project leader Vignesh Devasenapathy reported to guests that the greenfield project was “well on track,” adding: “We plan to finalise our hot preparation and mixing areas by end of March 2018. Final completion of construction works will be in the end of 2018.” Devasenapathy then shared that local hiring for key positions began earlier this year, and the local team now includes some 25 employees. “We will initiate the extensive hiring period in early 2018 to focus on new employees for our production facilities. With focus on highest quality and efficiency standards, we will train our new employees in our other Continental tyre plants, to benefit from the existing knowledge of our sister plants.”

The first phase of development in Rayong involves an investment of approximately 250 million euros, and this will give Continental a planned annual production passenger of around 4 million passenger car and light truck tyres by 2022. Operations are expected to commence in 2019. The plant is being built on a 750,000-square metre site, which potentially allows for expansion up to an annual capacity of 25 million tyres. Fitted with state-of-the-art technology, the Rayong plant will be Continental Tire’s most environmentally friendly facility.

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